Karachi – The fourth Karachi International Water Conference, organized by the Hisaar foundation in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, was held in Karachi. The conference’s thematic focus was on the Water – Energy – Food Nexus, a discourse meriting urgent attention given its criticality for sustainable livelihoods and food security.

The President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Mahmood Alvi opened the conference in the presence of a large number of participants from Pakistan, South Asia, and from across the globe. Discussions were held on the future of water along with the themes of Rights and Entitlements, Water Economy, Science and Technology, and Climate Change. There was a special focus on youth, the inclusion of women, marginalized groups, and minorities, aligned with UN’s “Leaving No One Behind” pledge contained in the Sustainable Development Goals agenda 2030.

Concern has been growing in recent years regarding the potential impact of climate change on Pakistan’s already stressed water resources. Rising temperatures, increasing saltwater intrusion in coastal areas, a growing threat of glacier lake outburst floods, more intense rainfall, and changes in monsoon and winter rainfall patterns are just some of the ways in which climate change is expected to affect Pakistan’s hydrologic resources. The urgency to address water challenges across the world is also reflected in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the world leaders in Paris in 2015 at the historic UN Summit.

Amidst the growing global urgency to address the implications of climate change on the water-food-energy nexus, the conference brought together national and international experts of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations who spoke about the water-food-energy nexus in the context of food security, governance, rural agriculture development, and climate change. Climate Smart Agriculture techniques were presented, which address the evolving needs of farmers. These interventions are used to adopt CSA where FAO works with the national and provincial government.

FAO’s water expert, Dr. Robina Wahaj emphasized on the need for synergies when multiple stakeholders come together for various policies, and that evidence based decision making was the way forward to adopt the nexus approach to optimize agriculture, water, and food productivity.

FAO has supported the Government of Pakistan at the policy and planning by working on the provincial Agro Ecological zones, and at the farm level by identifying Agriculture Resilience Building Initiatives (ARBIs) through intensive consultations at various levels. Speaking at the event, FAO representative in Pakistan Mina Dowlatchahi said, “FAO has been using the water, energy, and food security nexus as a framework to help tackle climate change and the competing demands and tradeoffs arising from water scarcity in many countries. To adapt the Pakistan food and agriculture systems to climate change, cropping patterns need to evolve based on Agro ecological Zones, and climate resilient agriculture and water practices introduced. Interventions require a multidisciplinary approach, where the social and economic dimensions as well as the technical and institutional go hand in hand, and are aligned with policies and principles at the provincial and national level. The investments by the private sector should also align and follow responsible agriculture investment (RAI) principles, with sound environmental and social safeguards. The FAO-Pakistan Green Climate Fund project on Transforming the Indus River Basin with Climate Resilient Agriculture and Water management provides an example and is a good opportunity for climate adaptation at scale.”

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